While I agree that the goal of the Sustainable Futures Commission (SFC)–reducing waste going to landfills–is a worthy one, I believe that their proposed pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) method is not the right solution for Lyons. Below are some, but not all, of the problems I see with a mandatory PAYT program.
Cost uncertainties exist in addition to Western’s quoted price. First, the cost of the service does not include an extra charge for bear-proof containers. This would add $3 per container, likely only needed for trash and compost, so $6 extra. Second, Western pays Eco-Cycle to take recycle materials; the cost is passed to customers (minimal increase or decrease, likely $1 or less). Any increase or decrease in cost depends on the future market for recyclables, which is uncertain. Third, a processing fee charged by the Town is unknown, likely around $1 if Lyons follows other municipalities. Fourth, a fee will be paid by all residents, even those who opt out. Residents may use another hauler but must also pay for the Town’s hauler ($18 plus the other fees above). Fifth, it has been stated that PAYT will have little or no burden on Town staff. The proposed program already has had cost and impact to the Town staff and attorney. Implementation of PAYT will certainly have further time-consuming impact on Town staff, especially in the first few months. In addition, PAYT will have an economic impact on other local haulers. How much impact is unknown.
Three containers may be inconvenient or unmanageable for some people, especially the elderly. Other potential problems include long, steep, or gravel driveways, and lack of outdoor or indoor storage space for three containers.
Landfills are the source of about 10% of atmospheric methane. Proper composting reduces that source of methane. Countering that gain are carbon emissions due to the current need to haul composted material to a site about 45 miles east of Boulder. Lyons’ net contribution to cleaner air under PAYT is unclear. At the same time, hauling compost material away from town makes it unavailable for use (e.g., in gardens) by Lyons’ citizens.
According to an Eco-Cycle survey in Lyons, 173 of 190 residents pledged to reduce waste. The Eco-Cycle survey indicates that a voluntary program of education and encouragement may well achieve the goals set by SFC. To my knowledge, no such voluntary program has been actively pursued.
Lyons has plenty of important issues on the table already, independent of added headaches caused by COVID-19. Vote “No” on ballot measure 4.
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